» First Meeting of the UKAS Policy Advisory Forum

24 March, 2011

The new UKAS Policy Advisory Forum (PAF) met for the first time on 23 March 2011 at the BIS Conference Centre in London.

Since the establishment of UKAS in 1995, stakeholder engagement has been an important part of UKAS’ policy making process. Indeed, it is a requirement of the Company’s Articles of Association that UKAS should have a committee ‘the purpose of which will be to ensure that the Directors are aware of the views of interested parties on policy issues affecting the Company's activities’. The UKAS Policy Advisory Committee was therefore established in April 1996 and met three times a year from that date. Over the years, the Committee provided UKAS with a great deal of sound advice and valuable insight into stakeholder views.

In recent years, as UKAS’ accreditation activities broadened into areas such as forensic science and healthcare, it became clear that the Policy Advisory Committee format was unable to provide for the increasing number of stakeholders with an interest in contributing to UKAS’ policy formulation process. Following a review, it was decided to introduce a two-tier advisory structure with an enlarged Policy Advisory Forum, supported by a smaller core group, the Policy Advisory Council. Around 40 stakeholder organisations were represented at the first Forum meeting.

Opening the meeting, Lord Lindsay, UKAS Chairman, stressed the importance of the Forum in helping UKAS achieve its public interest remit. He welcomed attendance from a much broader range of stakeholders and particularly from the health sector, a relatively new area of activity for UKAS and one that offers considerable potential for growth.

During the course of the meeting, Terms of Reference were agreed and Dr Martin Jones, the last Chair of the Policy Advisory Committee, was confirmed as Chair of the Forum. The meeting also heard Paul Stennett, the UKAS Chief Executive, provide a review of activities in 2010/11 and a summary of priorities for 2011/12.

Another important item on the agenda was the nomination of representatives for the Policy Advisory Council, which will be made up of three representatives from each of the four constituency groupings within the Forum: direct customers; indirect customers; government departments and agencies; consumers and other stakeholders. Following discussion, candidates for most of the Council places were put forward. The new Council will meet for the first time on 6 July.

The Forum members were then divided into seven breakout groups to discuss a number of questions relating to UKAS’ response to the increasing demands from Government and society for UKAS accreditation as an alternative to regulation. Some extremely useful feedback was received on these issues which will be fed into UKAS’ business planning process.

Further information on the UKAS Policy Advisory Forum, including Terms of Reference and membership list is available from the Policy Advisory Forum page.